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Why Wait? It’s Black Friday Now!

The Eat Sleep Wrestle office Christmas tree went up two weeks ago. So why wait to order wrestling books for Christmas?

Our website is the only place online to get these books signed. Click here to visit the book shop, and use the coupon code blackfriday to save 20% on your order.

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Dead Park Plaza

For those of you who like to read more than just wrestling books, here’s your reminder I write more than just wrestling books!

Dead Park Plaza is a compilation of eight short stories. All of them are creepy. All of them are funny. And all of them take place in a seemingly innocuous office building.

Fans have described this one as The Office meets Tales from the Dark Side. If you’ve ever dwelled among the cubicles as I have, this book is a treat.

Watch the trailer below, then go to www.johncosper.com to find out how to order.

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Stayin’ Alive

I heard from Tracy Smothers today. He told me it was gonna be all right.

A year ago, when Tracy passed, I was in the midst of writing Chris Candido’s biography. Tracy’s the one who told me I had to write a book about Candido, and whenever we talked, I’d give him an update on the book. About a week before he passed, Tracy told me he kept hearing Chris’s entrance theme “Back in Black” in different places. He felt like it was Chris talking to him, telling him everything was going to be okay. Two days before he passed, he left me a voice mail telling me he’d just heard the song again on ESPN. “I told you,” he said. “It’s Chris!”

This morning I went in for an EGD and a colonoscopy. Both were first time, preventative scans, but they were prompted by my father’s death in March. He went into the hospital on February 19 not feeling well. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on his birthday, February 28. He passed on March 7.

The scans found nothing urgent, but the doctor confirmed I’ll need to get scanned a little more frequently. As I waited for them to unhook me in recovery with my wife, I heard a song coming from the radio at the nurse’s station. It was “Stayin’ Alive.”

No, it wasn’t the N Trance rap version Tracy used, but it was enough for me. I told my wife, “It’s Tracy. He’s saying it’s all gonna be all right.”

I miss him every day. I miss my father too. Tracy was in my life only a few years, but both of those men left a big hole. It was good to hear from him and to know, it’s all gonna be okay.

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How Do You Remember Tracy Smothers?

I’ve been dreading this day for a while. As fate would have it, I ended up this morning in the same building I was in a year ago, when Mad Man Pondo called and told me the news. Tracy Smothers was gone.

I only knew Tracy for two years, and just one when we were close. But the man left an impact on me as he did everyone else he met. Tracy had the biggest heart. he was an encourager. He was a teacher. He was a father figure to many. He was a true friend.

The question I started asking after lunch today was how can we best honor his memory? Sharing stories? Heck yes. Sharing videos? Yes, please! But here’s one thing more we can all do: do as Tracy did.

Tracy was always there when someone wanted advice. He never hesitated to teach those who wanted to be taught. He was an encourager. He was a counselor. He was a friend. Even with all the chair shots he took, he never forgot anyone. He followed up with people. He texted to lift people up when they were down. He’d call just to say hello.

For everyone that new Tracy, here’s the challenge. Let’s love like he did. Let’s share our wisdom. Let’s share knowledge. Let’s do so in the same positive, encouraging way he always did.

Let’s reach out to people who are down. Let’s give them a laugh on text or their voice mails. Let’s let them know we are thinking about them.

Let’s make connections too. Give a ride to someone. Introduce someone to someone who can help them. If you’ve read Chris Candido’s book, you have Tracy to thank. Without him, I’d have never met Jimmy Shoulders and Jonny Candido.

We miss his work. We miss the way he wrestled and the way he made us laugh. But I think we can all agree, we miss the way he loved us and everyone he met. Do something good for someone today. Teach. Encourage. Inspire. Or just love on someone. Do it for Tracy. Lord knows he did it for us every day we had him with us!

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Excitement In The Air for Mike Rodgers’ First Book!

I got a small taste of the Pacific Northwest’s wrestling history when I co-authored Princess Victoria’s autobiography. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to convince me the territory had a rich and wonderful story. Now, thanks to Mike Rodgers, fans like me can get an even bigger sampling of that story.

Mike Rodgers has been chronicling the history of the Northwest territory for a long time. He’s a Cauliflower Alley Club honoree, having received the Jim Melby Award, and he’s just written his first book.

“Just written” is actually a misnomer. This is a book many years in the making, a compilation of interviews with the people who lived the story: Don Owen, Dutch Savage, Bryan Danielson, Lou Thesz, Tim Brooks, Ed Moretti, Nick Kozak, Don Leo Jonathan, Stan Stasiak, Red Bastien, Pamperi Firpo, and so many more. Even this is just a small sampling of the treasure trove Mike collected over the years, and if it does well, there will be more to come.

Eat Sleep Wrestle is proud to partner with Mike on the release of Excitement in the Air: The Voices of NW Wrestling, Volume 1. It’s available now on Amazon in paperback, and it’s a must read.

Order your copy on Amazon now.

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Lady Wrestler Unveils an Unforgettable Tale of Wrestling Pioneers

When the largest wrestling company in the world tried to honor the second African American woman to lace up the boots, they made three mistakes. One, they didn’t not contact her family. Two, they got their facts wrong, claiming she was the first. And three, they used footage of the wrong wrestler in their video packages.

Ouch.

When you rely on one company that held a monopoly on pro wrestling for more than thirty years for your history, you’re not going to get the full story. Fortunately for us, filmmaker Chris Bournea went to the source in creating the documentary Lady Wrestler, a wonderful tribute to the first African American ladies of the wrestling ring.

Ethel Johnson was not only the second lady wrestler to enter the business, she was the second of three sisters to do so! Lady Wrestler centers on the story of Johnson, older sister Babs Wingo, and younger sister Marva Scott. Through interviews with Ethel Brown, Ramona Isabel, family members, and Johnson herself, it tells an uplifting and inspiring tale of three black women who dreamed big.

All in all Lady Wrestler is a much more positive look at women’s wrestling than its predecessor Lipstick and Dynamite. Even its portrayal Billy Wolfe, whose seedy business practices have been well documented, focuses on the good. Wolfe took note of how Jackie Robinson changed professional baseball and opened the door for black women to try pro wrestling. Johnson, Wingo, and Scott were willing to give it a try, drawn in by the public image of the world champion Mildred Burke with her furs and diamonds.

Johnson and Isabel truly shine in the film as the ladies share how professional wrestling allowed them to make a better life for their families. It’s incredible hearing how they devoted themselves not only to traveling the world and working but raising their kids. One of the funniest moments comes when Johnson’s kids tell the stories of how they discovered their mom was “someone,” including coming home from school to find The Incredible Hulk’s Lou Ferrigno in their living room!

Bournea doesn’t shy away from the hardships the ladies faced. Jim Crow laws and systemic racism made life hard for the lady wrestlers in and out of the ring. A particularly heart-breaking story took place in Japan, when the jeers and racial slurs of the Japanese fans caused Marva Scott to have a nervous breakdown.

In the end, the African American ladies got what they wanted from pro wrestling. They made a good living, they provided for their families, and they left an incredible legacy for their children and grandchildren. The descendants of these ring pioneers know beyond a doubt they can be anything they want to be. not only did they see an African American become president, their mom/grandmother/great-grandmother was a professional wrestler!

Lady Wrestler is a must see for lovers of pro wrestling. Ethel Johnson was able to see the completed film before her passing, and it has the full endorsement of the families featured. It’s important to the survivors of these ring pioneers that their beloved mothers and grandmothers are not only remembered but remembered accurately. Lady Wrestler is the kind of tribute such wrestlers truly deserve.

Click here to watch Lady Wrestler on Amazon Prime. 

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Arezzi’s Memoir is an Inspirational Tale of Baseball, Wrestling, and Music

There are no accidents in this world. Or at least very few. Last week I reviewed Coach Miller’s phenomenal book, one of two I bought at the Dan Gable Museum this summer. Today at lunch, I was reminded I have another review to write. I opted for my locally-owned pizza place over the local food truck that’s out every Tuesday. Deal or No Deal was on television, and I suddenly looked up and said what many wrestling fans said when the episode first aired.

“Hey, that’s John Arezzi!”

Mat Memories (co-written by the always busy Greg Oliver) tells the story of a man with many talents, careers, and names. Growing up in a family that had connections to the mob, Arezzi forged his own path in life thanks to his greatest love: the New York Mets. The thankless sales job he took just to be part of their organization prepared him for two future careers that touched on his other great passions: pro wrestling and music.

To wrestling fans he is John Arezzi, a pioneer journalist and promoter. Arezzi strived to take fans behind the curtain with his New York based radio show, unafraid to ask the hard questions even during the infamous steroid trials of the early 90s. Arezzi famously invented the pro wrestling fan fest and more infamously launched the career of one of wrestling’s most polarizing figures, Vince Russo.

To country music folks he is John Alexander, a man known for discovering sensational talent and using every resource at his disposal to help them break out. Working in radio, management, and broadcasting, Alexander championed stars like Patty Loveless and Sarah Darling while navigating the often rough waters of the country music industry.

John Arezzi’s story is a fascinating read as he takes you on a roller coaster ride through his life and careers, but there’s a sub-text to the story that really stuck with me. Having just read Coach Miller’s book, I couldn’t help but draw inspiration from Arezzi, a man who seized every opportunity he was given. Who gets to work their dream job, much less three dream jobs, in a lifetime? Arezzi forged his own path in baseball, wrestling, and music, and in that music realm he did everything in his power to make dreams come true for others.

Arezzi proves that a person with the drive and desire can make their dreams come true, but the tales he shares of those who “might have been” remind us why some never make it. Despite all of the efforts John Alexander put into the careers of some would-be music stars, their careers never took off. A few fell victim to the machinations of the business, but most of the discoveries that came up short did so through their own choices. People can open doors for you and offer you those golden opportunities, but at the end of the day, we must choose to walk through those doors and seize the moment.

Arezzi’s book is a must read for wrestling and country music fans as well as dreamers from all walks of life. You be entertained as he regales you with tales about everyone from Jake “The Snake” Roberts to Phil Donahue to The New Kids on the Block to Taylor Swift. And if you’re a dreamer like me, you’ll also come away inspired.

Click here to order Mat Memories by John “Arezzi” Alexander on Amazon.

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Miller’s Motivational Book Packs a Punch

There’s a good reason why Coach Jim Miller now heads the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa. His love for wrestling is infectious, and his passion for life and wrestling come through in his new book, Do It Anyway.

Co-authored by his predecessor at the museum Kyle Klingman, Miller’s book is part autobiography and part motivational speech. He shares lessons learned from his days as a wrestler to his days as a coach and father. He touches on everything from finding motivation on tough days to setting your priorities.

As a college coach, Miller took a Division III college with no history in wrestling to ten NCAA titles. He took that program to the top thanks to his passion and his relentless drive to bring the best out in his wrestlers. He took that program to the top ten times because he put family first, honoring his wife and kids by staying in the community they loved rather than moving on to a larger program.

Do It Anyway is a short read that packs a wallop. Miller’s “do it anyway” philosophy can apply to anyone’s life and circumstances. Don’t feel like writing today? Do it anyway! Don’t feel like exercising? Do it anyway! Don’t feel like running laundry today? Do it anyway!

Whether you feel like it or not is irrelevant. If something needs doing, you do it anyway.

Do It Anyway is not available on Amazon, but it’s worth going out of your way to find and read it. If you can’t make it to the Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, you can order it from Coach Miller’s website. Click here to order.

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Loretta Kendall Blends Romance and Rasslin’

Loretta Kendall’s story reminds me of my own. She had a desire to write romance novels, but she was looking for something different. “I started out writing sports romance novels, and I noticed that outside of Diana Hart, no one had written about wrestling,” says Kendall. “I thought, wow, there’s really a niche for this!”

Kendall didn’t have to look far for inspiration. She has family in the wrestling business, and she worked with a number of wrestlers behind the scenes, including Bill Dundee, Jimmy Valiant, and the late Brian Christopher. “I know what real life is like for those guys. I wanted to show that side of being a wrestler. I looked to see if anyone else had done wrestling themed romance, and outside of Diana Hart, there wasn’t much.”

In just a few short years Kendall wrote and published a number of novels, and she’s found a strong following. “I have about fifteen books out, and eight or nine are wrestling-themed. My first wrestling series of books has already topped 70,000 reads.”

Kendall is still new to the market and has hopes of getting out to author fairs and wrestling shows to find new fans.  In the mean time readers can learn more about her and her books on her website, www.lorettakendall.com.

Wrestling truly is for everyone, and the same goes for wrestling books. If you enjoy romance and wrestling, I hope you’ll give her a look!

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Deathmatch Wrestling for 10 Year Olds

A conversation from my in-laws’ visit this past weekend.

My 10 year old niece: That’s an interesting shirt Uncle John is wearing.

My wife, not a wrestling fan: That is a crazy shirt.

Niece: It looks like they have blood on them.

Me: Oh, that’s not blood. It’s hot sauce.

Niece: What?

My wife: They were having a hot sauce eating contest.

Me: And they were throwing it on each other to try and distract the others.

Niece, who is no dummy: It says Masters of Pain Tournament.

My wife, again not a fan but brilliant: Have you ever had hot sauce in your eye? It really hurts.